Countdown to Father’s Day

When I think of the books I’ve written, very seldom do I have a father of a main character appear in the story, which is, some would say, typical of romance, since most romance heroines are orphans, either symbolically  or literally. (Gosh that was along sentence.) In THE WISH LIST, Kristin’s parents were older and are both dead by the time the story starts. In AS YOU WISH, Reggie’s father is still around, but he was always detached, not unloving, just detached. In WISHFUL THINKING, though, Stormy hits the jackpot. She has two dads and a biological mother who all care for her, but the dads especially. In TEMPTATION’S WARRIOR (under the name Gabi Anderson) Elf is an orphan. It’s an interesting aspect of writing my novels–where are the main characters’ parents. The heroes don’t often have them either. Or have just one. Or are simply not mentioned.

My own father died over twenty years ago, but I feel his influence everyday. And especially since we have a special day in  June (I’m a few days early–sue me) to celebrate dads, I’ve been thinking about mine. He was a big guy–six feet tall–and when we won on Family Feud (another story), he hugged Richard Dawson so hard that Mr. Dawson made jokes about it the next day. He had a heavy Hungarian accent–if an American called him at home, his conversation mostly consisted of saying, “Ja” (like the German yes), yet he read the paper daily without difficulty. When he first met my future husband, he hugged him. Picture a six foot three American guy being embraced by this bear of a man. The look of shock on the then-boyfriend’s face is a memory etched with grins in my mind. And since my dad had only daughters, at the end of that visit, he took my husband aside and said, “Let’s go to the garage, and let me give you some tools.” And he did. (We still have some of them.)

My father didn’t cook. As far as I remember he could make scrambled eggs and that’s about it. As far as I remember he didn’t even grill. When we’d set up our barbeque, he’d load the briquets, start the fire, but my mom grilled (My memory could be wrong here, but I just don’t remember him cooking).

He was smart, but not obnoxiously so (that I reserve for myself and my husband-hahaha), but he was the wisest man I ever knew. I had an unusual last name, and when I married, I decided to take my husband’s name. I asked my father if he minded that there would be no more Stefels, and he said, “Names don’t matter. People do.”

So I hope you’ll indulge me as I revisit memories of my father. And if not, well, you’re not writing this blog are you, but you can certainly complain in the comments. 🙂



Books I’m reading now:

Soul of the Highlander by Melissa Mayhue

The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

From the Corner of his Eye by Dean Koontz

True Confessions

Have you ever learned something about someone that shocked you? Well, prepare to be shocked. I’m about to make some true confessions.

1. I’m not a fan of chocolate. It’s okay, as long as it’s milk and filled with nuts or peanut butter, and not fruit. All those articles that tout the health benefits of dark chocolate? Lost on me because I really dislike dark chocolate.

2. I’m not a fan of coffee. Oh don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it with tons of cream and sugar so it tastes like hot, melted coffee ice cream (one of my favorite flavors), but black? Yuck. Again, those recent health benefits they’ve discovered? Yeah, I’m out of luck on those too.

3.I don’t like olives, not black, not green, not stuffed, not pickled. I will use olive oil to cook, but don’t put them on my pizzas, my Mexican food, or in my salads. And speaking of Mexican food…

4. I like Taco Bell. Okay, I don’t really count it as Mexican food because I really like Mexican food, but I do like Taco Bell. I know I shouldn’t and purists will laugh at me, but I told you it was confession time.

5. Be prepared for this one. I tried, but I just couldn’t get into Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I like other Joss Whedon stuff (Firefly, which I just discovered, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog), but not Buffy. Don’t worry. I’m not team Edward either. (Ooo, and this might count as a confession too–I haven’t seen Avengers yet. I plan to, but graduations and then foot surgery got  in the way.)

6. I am lazy by nature. Sure, you can argue since I have actually had books published that I am disciplined, but I’d argue I’ve succeeded in spite of my natural lazy inclinations. I think the reason I can actually hold a job or write a book is that my sense of responsibility is hyperactive. At least that’s what my husband says.

Okay, I feel better now. Have anything you’d like to get off your chest?


Books I’m reading now:

From the Corner of his Eye by Dean Koontz


My two daughters (twins, you know) both graduate from college (Hey, I had them when I was 12…ish) this weekend. Yes, at the same time–well a day apart, but in different areas of the country. Their father and I are quite used to the divide and conquer strategy required when one has twins. Throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school, we split up on open house.  I took one kid to college, he took the other (because they started at the same time, you know); I’m attending the kid-whom-I-didn’t-take’s graduation in Massachusetts, and he’s flying to Atlanta for the other’s. And then they will have their own lives. (Yeah, yeah, I’m not going to talk about boomerang kids; one is already gainfully employed, and the other majored in CS and hasn’t started her search yet because she was doing schoolwork, but we have no doubts she soon will be a productive member of society.)

Have you ever wondered why it’s called commencement? Because it is a new beginning. One stage of life ends because a new one is about to begin. That’s what my girls are facing next week–the commencement of their next lives. Because I firmly believe we have life stages. First we’re children, then teenagers, then adults. Then job holders, spouses, parents, grandparents, retirees, etc. I was a teacher for seven years (I quit a year ago–a whole other story), now I write full-time in addition to family duties, which I did before, but this time I don’t have little ones running around while I attempt to create. And I’m still in development. My trilogy just finished up (The Wish List, As You Wish, Wishful Thinking) and right now I have nothing coming out from a major publisher (but my agent is shopping around a ms as I type this), and I’m getting ready to release my second self-pubbed title (The first was a backlist historical romance, Temptation’s Warrior). And I’m still working on that next step. Success has been elusive (my definition of success in any case), but I’ve had a little, and I’m still plugging away.

That’s the great thing about commencement. It’s a new beginning, the next stage, and you can have one at any time. You don’t have to wait for January 1. You can start tomorrow. Or right now.

Congratulations, baby girls.

–Mom (I mean, Gabi)

Books I’m reading now:

Timeless by Gail Carriger

Just Down the Road by Jodi Thomas

How Star Wars Changed My Life

I had heard that it was a great movie. That I had to go see it. The buzz was everywhere. So my mother and I went on a mommy date to Westwood to watch this new movie called Star Wars. We waited in line for over an hour (that was my first time for an over an hour wait–lining up at the movie theater? Unheard of.) And then the titles started to roll, and I mean roll. What followed was an amazing 122 minutes of an adventure that spoke to me. It had good guys and bad guys and robots. A love story (I knew it was coming). Good vs. Evil. And space. Who knew I liked space?

I saw that movie six times that summer (I was in boarding school at the time and didn’t get to the movies during the school year). And the way it was told, the story line, the over-the-top-grab-your-seat adventure changed the way I viewed books and movies. That’s what I wanted to see and read. And when it came time to realize that I am a writer, that’s the kind of story I wanted to tell–plot (lots of it) characters to root for, villains to fight, a cause worth dying for, and adventure–maybe not between stars, but big for the setting.

My mother hated the movie.

(May the 4th be with you. There is nothing inner about my geek.)


Books I’m reading now:

Timeless by Gail Carriger

Beware the Internet

I’m that obnoxious person who, when she gets passed a story via Facebook or email, goes straight to to see if it’s true. Some of the best stories that get passed around are just not true.


Or are they?


Not to mess with your head, but it depends on your definition of “true.” Take for example the story of the racist who boards an airplane and finds his or her is beside a person who is a member of a group that the racist hates. The bigot makes a fuss, but there are no more seats in economy class. The flight attendant announces that there’s a seat in first class and says no one should have to sit next to someone who makes him or her feel uncomfortable, and promptly bumps the victim of the tirade to first class. The reason I’m so vague in telling the story is that it never happened and many iterations of this story exist (a Muslim sitting next to a Jew, a Christian sitting next to a Muslim, a white person sitting next to a black person, etc.). The story isn’t true.


But we really want it to be.


And thus the reason I don’t object to the story. It is true…emotionally. I have long maintained that fiction presents ideas to society in a way that is easy to digest. Art in all its forms helps cultures grow, change, and deal with transformation. To Kill a Mockingbird isn’t less powerful because it’s fiction. Fahrenheit 451 teaches its lesson in a story. And these internet stories do the same thing in bite sized form.


But don’t get me started on when the pieces that are spread are attributed to the wrong speaker or are outright false. Especially those word origin ones. “Ship high in transit” is NOT the origin of one of our favorite four letter words, nor is “fornication under carnal knowledge.” Funny, but entirely false.



Books I’m reading now:

The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

Timeless by Gail Carriger